Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, February 3, 2015
For the second time since 2013, Wisconsin finds itself in transition. Gary Andersen abruptly bolted for Oregon State after just two seasons in Madison. The Badgers countered by tabbing native son and former player and assistant Paul Chryst, who was the head coach at Pitt.
Chryst will have some talent to work with from a team that won the Big Ten West, including quarterback Joel Stave, running back Corey Clement, wideout Alex Erickson, center Dan Voltz and tackle Tyler Marz on offense. The defense will have back safety Michael Caputo, corners Darius Hillary and Sojourn Shelton and linebackers Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel. Former quarterback Tanner McEvoy is back and set to play safety. And kicker Rafael Gaglianone looks like a special player.
But Wisconsin has some holes to fill with guard Dallas Lewallen, cornerback Peniel Jean and tight end Sam Arneson gone, among others.
Here are the top five Badgers to replace for 2015.
G Kyle Costigan. He helped the Badgers rank No. 3 in the Big Ten in offense (468.9 ypg) in 2014, as the attack was spearheaded by the No. 1 rushing game in the conference and was No. 4 in scoring (34.6 ppg). Costigan, one of the toughest players on the team, was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection.
RB Melvin Gordon. He leaves campus as an all-time great. Gordon ran for 2,587 yards–a Big Ten record and the second-most in FBS history–and 29 TDs in 2014. He earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Heisman runner-up honors before declaring a year early for the NFL draft. Gordon?s 4,915 career rushing yards rank No. 3 all-time at Wisconsin and No. 6 on the Big Ten all-time list. No one will forget his then-NCAA single-game record 408-yard rushing effort vs. Nebraska in November.
OT Rob Havenstein. The massive Havenstein leaves a huge void-literally and figuratively-on a strong offensive line. The 6-8, 333-pound Havenstein helped the Badgers rank No. 1 in the Big Ten in rushing (320.1 ypg). He was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten choice.
LB Derek Landisch. An ultra-productive player, Landisch ranked third on the squad in tackles with 84 last season. He also ranked second in tackles for loss with 16.0 and led Wisconsin with 9.0 sacks. Landisch was first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and second-team by the media.
LB Marcus Trotter. He was second on the Badgers in tackles with 93 to go along with 12.0 tackles for loss in 2014. Trotter was a force on the interior of the defense, a run-stuffer and pillar of an underrated unit that ranked No. 2 overall in the Big Ten (294.1 ypg). He was a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten pick.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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